Jonan-gu Shrine Rakusui-en Garden
- AddressNakajimatobarikyu-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto City
Pond garden and dry landscape garden
Outline of garden
Address : Nakajimatobarikyu-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto City
Telephone : +81-(0)75-623-0846
Period of garden construction : See text
Garden designer : NAKANE Kinsaku
Garden style : Pond garden and dry landscape garden
Site area : About 4,000 m2
Public openness : Open (Admission fee)
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Jonan-gu Shrine was built south of Heian-kyo and literally means "the shrine at the south of the capital." It used to be part of the old imperial villa for the Retired Emperors Shirakawa (reign 1073-1086) and Toba (reign 1107-1123). The shrine was worshiped to ward off evil in an emperor family and to protect the aristocracy from inauspicious directions, and for the security of the imperial court.
Photo-1©. Torii gate of Jonan-gu Shrine
The stroll-style garden of the Jonan-gu Shrine "Rakusui-en" consists of five small gardens featuring different styles. They were all designed by NAKANE Kinsaku, a famous landscape artist from the middle of the Showa period (1926-1989). The gardens were created to provide places for visitors to rest and enjoy refreshment, as opposed to for any practical use.
The gardens contain various styles from different times such as the Heian (794-1185), Muromachi (1333-1568), and Momoyama (1568-1600) periods respectively. The Garden of Muromachi and the Garden of Momoyama were created between 1954 and 1960. The Garden of Muromachi features a pond at its center, with a complicated curved stone-shoreline and surrounded by plants, which you can see from the Rakusui-ken teahouse near the pond while drinking green tea. The Garden of Momoyama, on the other hand, has a large and well-maintained lawn space representing water with rock islands and following the concept of a dry landscape garden, with cycad trees and shaped hedges standing in the background.
Photo-2©. Pond in the Garden of Muromachi
Photo-3©. A complicated curved stone-shoreline in the Garden of Muromachi
Photo-4©. Stone arrangement in the Garden of Muromachi
Photo-5. Washbasin in the Garden of Muromachi
Photo-6©. A path connecting to teahouse in the Garden of Muromachi
Photo-7©. Light green lawn area in the Garden of Momoyama
Photo-8©. Curved white sand path in the Garden of Momoyama
The Garden of Heian was designed to be viewed from the Kagura-den Shinto ritual hall, based on a model in the Shinden style, by the imperial family and aristocracy in the Heian period. The central pond contains an island, a waterfall, small streams, and trees and shrubs. Kyokusui-no-Utage, a banquet by a small stream that winds from the pond, has been held here every spring and fall since 1970 as a revival of the graceful poetry parties dating back to the Heian period.
Photo-9©. The Garden of Heian
The Garden of Jonan Rikyu is another dry landscape garden, this time representing an imperial villa scene from the late Heian period using arrangements of stones as the buildings, the lawn space as the ground, and white sand as a pond. The western part of the Rakusui-en Garden contains another garden called Haru-no-yama, which means a mountain in the spring, with 150 weeping plum trees. Their red and white flowers bloom beautifully in the spring.
Photo-10©. The Garden of Jonan Rikyu
Photo-11©. Arrangements of stones, the lawn space, and white sand in the Garden of Jonan Rikyu
These five beautiful gardens together contain more than one hundred species of the trees and flowers that appear in the Tale of Genji. Amazingly, the hedge is trimmed by experienced gardeners using only scissors. They put a great deal of effort into ensuring that the soft shape of the plants is retained to create a pleasing atmosphere. The professionally arranged trees such as plum trees, cherry trees, azaleas, wisterias, and Japanese maples can be enjoyed throughout the different seasons.
The entire area surrounding the Jonan-gu Shrine was the site of the old Toba Imperial Villa (Toba Rikyu) at the end of the Heian period. Although almost all of it has since been lost, a number of relics have since been discovered during the excavation of the site. The ruins of the Minami-dono south hall and the neighboring remains at the pond of the old Toba Imperial Villa have been designated a National Historic Site and a preservation measure has been taken.
*©-marked photos provided by Jonan-gu Shrine